More Americans fear the consequences of raising the debt limit than a potential government default, according to the most recent national survey conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and The Washington Post from May 19-22. 48% of Americans say their greater concern is that raising the debt limit would increase government spending and lead to higher debt, as compared with 35% who say their greatest concern is that not raising the debt limit would lead to a government default and hurt the economy.
An even larger majority (60%) of Republicans fear more that raising the debt limit would lead to higher spending and a larger national debt, and 49% of independents share that view, with only 34% more concerned about a potential government default. Among individuals who identify as Democrats, however, 48% say their main concern is a government default, compared with 38% who take the opposite stance.But despite most Americans' willingness to take a stance on the issue, survey results show that the debt debate has not resonated with many of them. Only 25% of Americans say they have heard a lot about the debate, with 38% saying they have heard a little and 37% nothing at all. And many Americans do not claim to have a strong understanding of the issue's consequences:"Half of Americans (50%) say they feel like they understand the possible implications of not raising the debt limit very well (18%) or fairly well (32%), though nearly as many (47%) say they do not have a good understanding of what would happen if the debt limit is not raised."
And although more Americans say of greater concern is increasing the debt limit, large majorities fear both the consequences of raising the debt limit and failing to raise it. 77% say they are somewhat or very concerned that raising the debt limit would lead to higher spending and debt, while 73% say they are somewhat or very concerned that not raising the limit would cause the government to default and the economy to falter.
Republicans appear to feel more strongly about the issue than Democrats: 61% of Republicans say they are very concerned about raising the debt limit, as compared with 48% of Democrats who say they are very concerned that not raising the debt limit would lead to a government default.